Patience was the name of the game in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, as a combination of difficult weather conditions and defensive systems saw the teams play out a low scoring affair, with Tyrone just shading the contest with an improved extra time showing.
Late changes were made to both starting line ups with numbers and positions meaning very little, as both sides filtered players back behind the ball once possession had been lost.
The swirling wind made free flowing football impossible and although Tyrone played with the breeze to their backs in the opening period, it’s hard to suggest that it was of any major advantage.
Eoin Woods was a late addition to the Armagh starting 15 and it was the Carrickcruppen man who got the game up and running inside the opening minute.
Armagh soon doubled their lead with Captain Justin Kieran stepping up to swing over an inspirational score from the right wing, following a huge kick out from Shea Magill was captured by Dara O’Callaghan who played through Kierans for Armagh’s second.
The Orchard County defeated brilliantly in the opening few minutes with Aaron McCreanor and Eoin McConville forcing turnovers, with Tyrone struggling to get off the mark, failing to make the most of their chances.
The Red Hands did get their first after seven minutes with Tiarnan Quinn knocking over a free. The crowd of 891 would have to wait another 13 minutes to see another white flag raised, with Quinn pointing from another placed ball.
Eoin Woods traded scores with Tyrone full forward Matthew Murnaghan before the away team were reduced to 14 men, for an off the ball incident. The referee halted proceedings to flash the red card for, what was later revelled, the Tyrone player ‘sledging’ his opponent.
The half time whistle was blown and the sides headed towards the tunnel in the same way they had entered the field 30 minutes before hand, level and with the result still very much up for grabs. Armagh 0-3 Tyrone 0-3.
Whispers of Darragh Canavan’s non-involvement seemed to be true as the Errigal Ciaran man failed to make the starting line up. Canavan did take the field after the break however and headed straight for the full forward line.
Armagh made a fantastic start to a frantic second period as Shea Magill pulled off a super save to deny a certain goal for Joe Oguz. The counter attack resulted in Armagh grabbing the first score through Justin Kierans who claimed the first mark of the game.
Kierans move to the full forward proved to be a great one as he was again on target for the second score of the half, a beautiful curling effort from the corner, and his inspirational score sent Armagh into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead.
Donal Conlon doubled his sides’ lead but Armagh wouldn’t score again until the 76th minute and Tyrone were the team now playing all the football. They soon cut the deficit, with Canavan bringing the Red Hands back into contention in the 43rd minute.
Tyrone would take the lead for the first time minutes later. A disastrous defensive moment saw Tiarnan O’Neill’s high ball towards the full forward line float over the goalkeepers head and fly into the back of the net to put Tyrone two points up.
Cian McConville pulled one back from the dead ball to level the game before Tyrone looked to have snatched the victory. Midfielder Joe Oguz found man of the match Tiarnan O’Neill on his own and the corner forward swung over what seemed to be the winner.
There was one final twist however and a questionable free was awarded to the hosts. James McCormack had only entered the fray five minutes before stepping up to grab a draw for his side and the game was forced into 20 minutes of extra time, Armagh 0-8 Tyrone 1-5.
Although Tyrone were allowed to replace their red carded player, Captain Antoin Fox received his marching orders for a black card offence just before the referee called for the ball, meaning the visiting side would head into extra time with 14 men.
Things were evened up midway through the first half of extra time as Armagh received a dubious black card of their own and with Fox being reintroduced moments later, Tyrone started to pull away.
Tiernan O’Neill continued his fine scoring form by bringing his personal tally to 1-4 with the only score of the first period. Tyrone hit another 16 seconds after the restart with Neil Fitzpatrick slotting over to make two the margin.
Fox bombed forward from deep to claim his first point of the game with a left footed effort while corner back Cormac Quinn put the game beyond doubt with the final piece of action.
Armagh will no doubt be hurt by the result but they showed an incredible fighting spirit to bring the game to extra time and just didn’t have enough to keep in the contest and Tyrone superior second half showing was enough to claim victory.
Armagh Team: Shea Magill, Ronan Mallon, Aaron McCreanor, Tomas McCormack, Eoin Woods (0-2), Paul Martin, Oscar McKeagney, Niall McCorry, Ciaran Mackin, Donal Conlon (0-1), Tiernan Kelly, Justin Kierans (0-3), Dara O’Callaghan, Eoin McConville, Cian McConville (0-1). Subs: Shane Donnelly for D. O’Callaghan, Oisin King for E. McConville, Louis Hughes for C. Mackin, James McCormack (0-1) for C. McConville. ET Subs: Dara O’Callaghan for O. King, Cian McConville for S. Donnelly, Shea Traynor for A. McCreanor.
Tyrone Team: Lorcan Quinn, Conor Quinn (0-1), Cormac Munroe, Ryan Jones, Michael Gallagher, Antoin Fox (0-1), James McCann, Kevin Barker, Joe Oguz, Liam Gray, Matthew McCusker, Neil Kilpatrick (0-1) Ethan Jones, Matthew Murnaghan, Tiarnan Quinn (1-4). Subs: Darragh Canavan (0-1) for L. Gray, Tomas Donaghy for M. Murnaghan, Caolan Slevin for J. McCann, Aaron Montgomery for J. McCann. ET Subs: Eunan Devlin for L. Gray, Ruairi Strain for M. Gallagher, Ronan Duffin for A. Montgomery